Too close

Youth drop-in centre too close to brothels and homes say locals

OPENING a homeless drop-in centre in Edward Street in Perth will create more antisocial behaviour around Weld Square, say concerned locals.

With two brothels nearby, locals are also worried the location is inappropriate for vulnerable youth.

Vinnies’ Passages Resource Centre opened on Palmerston Street in 1999, offering homeless youth, aged 12 to 25, free facilities, including a kitchen, bathroom and medical advice.

• John Keely and John Collins are concerned about plans to open a homeless drop-in centre in Edward Street, saying it’s too close to residential  apartments. Photo by Steve Grant

The centre, which deals with an average of 20 young people a day, has outgrown the site and Vinnies has applied to Vincent council to move to Edward Street and for a change of use to be a drop-in centre.

Eighty of the 85 public submissions to council opposed the move, and local John Collins said, “I support Vinnies as they do essential works” but it is the wrong location and homeless youth shouldn’t be exposed to the brothel’s clientele.

Several businesses at nearby Weld Square already deal with anti-social behaviour and have also opposed the move.

Mr Collins says the homeless youth congregating at Russell Square, near the existing centre, would likely move to Weld Square, the closest park to the proposed Palmerston site.

“We do experience moderate anti-social behaviour at this square and don’t consider that any subsequent increase is acceptable,” he says.

A flyer letterdropped to residents in the area states, “unsocial behaviour like public drinking, drug taking, graffiti, public ablutions and defecation are unwelcome additions to our premises” and urged people to make a submission.

Gayle Mitchell, Vinnies state manager for homeless services, says they have done due diligence on the new site.

“We take our duty of care for these vulnerable individuals very seriously and would not make any decisions that would cause any risk of further trauma for these young people, who have already been exposed to more than they should,” she says.

Ms Mitchell says they have management plans to minimise any impact to the neighbourhood.

“Many of the young people accessing Passages have had varied experience’s that have led to them becoming homeless or at risk of being homeless;  issues such as abuse, neglect and family breakdown, sexuality or undiagnosed mental health issues.  Despite these complex issues and the difficulties they face, the majority of the time the young people we assist are respectful of the service and staff, and do not want to [risk getting] time out from the service as a result of undertaking antisocial behaviour.”

Vinnies will hold a community information session on the proposed drop-in centre at Mount Lawley Bowling Club on July 20 at 6.30pm.

The proposal is scheduled to be voted on by Vincent councillors in July and requires an absolute majority.

by DAVID BELL

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